Group I favorites DR Congo fell further behind the pace following a 2-1 road defeat to Sudan, completing a poor week that sees the Leopards lose in both their home and away matches this week. Waleed Bakhet and Mohamed Abdelrahman scored for the hosts before a late consolation from Leopards striker Jonathan Bolingi was too little too late, moving Sudan to third place a point behind both Mauritania and Gabon with three points. DR Congo have a lot of work to do with two matches coming up against Mauritania in September while Sudan face Gabon.
Sudan are a notoriously difficult team to defeat when they play at home and the hosts rose to the occasion in their first match at the Al-Hilal Stadium since September 2021 when they lost to Guinea-Bissau with no spectators. Fans were allowed in this time and witnessed a quick start with Sudan taking the lead in the 16th minute. Abdelrahman sent Bakhet in behind the Congolese defense with a well weighted through ball and his Al-Hilal Omdurman teammate finished low past DR Congo goalkeeper Joël Kiassumbua.
Outside of a 32nd minute volley from striker Ben Malango that did not have enough power to beat Sudan keeper Mohamed Mustafa, the Congolese took some time to mount regular attacks on the Sudanese defense. The chances arrived for the visitors in the second half with Mustafa beaten twice from headers but being bailed out by a defender on the line as well as one header going off target when he came out and failed to make a play on the ball.
Despite overwhelming pressure at times from the Leopards, Sudan held firm and were able to put the match away when they struck on the counter in the 86th minute. Abdelrahman started the break and laid a pass over to Yasir Muzmel on the right wing, who unselfishly returned a pass to his Al-Hilal club teammate for an easy finish with Kiassumbua caught out. In the final seconds a lofted free kick from midfield was flicked on by Malango to find Bolingi for a simple finish but there was no time remaining to mount a final charge.
Highlights of the match are below.